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Wolf delisting bill proposed

D.C. legislation to rescind wolf ESA protections

A bill to remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the lower 48 states would allow states to manage and authorize hunting of the canines.

If passed, the bill would bypass federal judge rulings, said Tim Hockhalter of Timber Creek Outfitters of Crandall.

Subject to current federal protections, if Endangered Species guidelines run their course and wolves are delisted, the animals would remain under a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service review program for five years. If the canines dropped below recovery goals, the service could conduct a status review.

“This legislation takes out all of that,” said Chris Colligan, wildlife advocate for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.

A bipartisan group, including Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., is introducing the bill.

“It’s been eight years since wolves in Wyoming have met the federal government’s recovery goals, yet Washington (D.C.) has yet to hold up its end of the deal,” said Lummis in a press release Jan. 27. “Meanwhile, wolf populations are thriving in the West while ranchers and big game herds suffer.”

There are roughly 1,700 wolves in the Rocky Mountain region. That figure includes approximately 300 in Wyoming.

In 1988, the Northern Yellowstone elk herd was at 20,000 head. That number was down to 4,000 last year, according to National Park Service numbers, Hockhalter said.

Wyoming must manage its wildlife, including its predators, Hockhalter said.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has adjusted elk hunting quotas in some locations in response to reduced elk counts, and Hockhalter said he has heard rumors of more limited-quota elk hunt areas being considered.

Colligan, an elk hunter who lives in Jackson, said some hunt areas are above elk population objectives and some below. He said elk hunters must ascertain where elk numbers are high, attend Game and Fish season-setting meetings and plan their elk hunting accordingly.

Wildlife managers are endeavoring to adjust elk hunting harvests to protect elk population numbers, Colligan said.

“The balancing act is what everybody is striving to get at,” Colligan said.

Wyoming must manage its own wildlife, including predators such as wolves, Hockhalter said.

Lummis believes the Wyoming Game and Fish can maintain the wolf population, said her press secretary, Hayley Douglass.

Responding to a question via e-mail, Lummis said people on the ground in Wyoming have a better handle on wolf management than Washington, D.C. does.

“Here in Wyoming, we know that our local officials, land owners and experts in the state are the authorities on our wildlife and its management, not bureaucrats on the other side of the country,” Lummis said. “I am not convinced the president feels the same way.”

Hockhalter said it would be a long shot passing the bill, but a lot of politicians are behind it.

“I think we can get it pushed through,” Hockhalter said.

“I hope not,” Colligan said.

The bill’s political brush stroke is too broad, he said. Not only would it countermand wolf recovery and Endangered Species protection for wolves in the Rocky Mountain region, but also the entire lower 48 states, thus negating wolf recovery goals in places like the Great Lakes region or the Southwest, where the Mexican gray wolf population is struggling, Colligan said.

Hockhalter said judges are ruling in favor of wolves, and conservation groups are pushing to keep the canines under federal protection. Wyoming is getting short shrift by federal government wolf dictates. It’s time for a shift in policy to oblige Wyoming, he said. “I hope things go our way for once.”

If Endangered Species protection for wolves is scrapped, there will be no incentives for states to maintain a healthy wolf population, Colligan said.

“It seems like a political fix for some special interests,” Colligan said.

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6 comments

  • posted by Chuck

    March 12, 2011 6:12 am

    WHy would you want a creature not native to this land to come in and destroy the other wildlife? The wolves that were from Wyoming were around 90 pounds and they bring in dogs that are twice that size. There is a reason that a Yukon moose is 7 feet tall, it is to help them deal with such creatures. Our wildlife isn't built to deal with such. I'm not against wolves just against the wrong wolves in the wrong places. Come on people wake up they are eating us out of our other wildlife.

  • posted by bella

    February 14, 2011 7:38 am

    what were the animals doing before we got so involved? Maybe they were hunting each other for food to survive. Do you know how many people I know that hunt just for fun. They do nothing with the meat. How about regulate hunting to save the elk and let the wolves do what they do.

  • posted by Bill Harasym

    February 11, 2011 4:32 pm

    WOW, we have a bunch of intellectual giants here with their flawed and misinformed comments.
    What is your hangup with wolves? Really? Every argument you 3 proffered here are both illogical and/or hokey wolf-hating myths.
    I know it is the right-winged meme to hate wolves and make up lies to accomplish their goal, but there are a lot of us here in Wyoming who didn't just fall off that beet truck. We also don't buy into all the misinformation and hatred toward wolves.
    Now, you all seem to have some type of education, and appear to have a God given brain, so here is something for you all to digest. Watch this movie, it discusses ways we can work together, rather then the lopsided approach advocated by some here to just annihilate wolves.
    http://www.returntothewild.com/
    Don't worry, your heads will not explode when you watch this, well I hope it doesn't happen. Watch it with an open mind though!
    Thanks for you time fellas, and remember, wolves are also one of God's creatures too. Send me some if you wish!

  • posted by G. H. Cork Meyer

    February 02, 2011 7:03 am

    Anyone wanting to watch wolves and claim to be animal lovers should watch them torture their pray before they kill them. they eat on them before they are dead. One can easily tell these people sit on their butts and look at pictures and trully have no idea. And as for who should fork over money for management it should be all those who want them here. I damn sure DO NOT. Cork Meyer

  • posted by Dewey

    February 01, 2011 12:46 pm

    Firstly, the State of Wyoming does NOT want the wolf to be delisted. If it were, there is still a 5-year probationary period where state management would still be under the federal USFWS guidelines and supervision before wolves were entirely released to state management. Wyoming's postion , often unstated or buried, is that te Grey Wolf was foisted on the state and is the Fed's dog to manage..Wyoming want nothing to do with them , beyond treating them worse than they already treat coyotes, as a nuisance peedator to be shot on sight in the 80 eprcent of the state away from Yellowstone. Wyoming chaffs at having to maintain a population of wolves inside that so-called Trophy Zone, especially since there is no money in the wolf licenses that would be allowed there , to speak of.

    Which brings me to the second issue: the Money . Wyoming already spends between $ 1-1.5 million of its own money annually " managing" the Grizzly bear. Wolves would be more costly, even with Widlife Service's continued help in killing them. Does Wyoming Game and Fish have $ 2 million a year to spare? No, they do not. WOuld the affected stakeholders---ranchers and outfitters and sport hunters---respond to calls to pay for state wolf management out of their own business pants pockets, as beneficiaries ; the "User Pays" principle? Of course not, even though that is not an unreasonable request.

    Thirdly , to most people and nearly all the stakeholders, Wolf Management in Wyoming means only one thing: kill them. Is that really wolf management ? No , it is not.

    Finally , do any of the stakeholders and especially the Legislators and policy makers even have the faintest clue what the POSITIVE vale f wolves is, and their beneficial and necessary role in wildlife conservation and landscape ecology ? Not just no, but hellno...they haven't a clue.

    Otherwise we wouldn't be reading this tripe...

    Wolves are wildlife, too. Management is much more than killing. And if you want to make some fast money and are predisposed to gambling, find the outfitter or politician entered in the Liar's Contest , and back them to the hilt.

  • posted by somsai ban nock

    February 01, 2011 11:44 am

    I sure hope they do remove ESA protections. Who in the heck needs wolves?

    From a scientific perspective they aren't now and never were endangered. The international listing organisation for all species gives them it's very lowest rating, a species of "least concern".

    http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/3746/0

    Whoever wants wolves maybe send them some.

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